Published : Thursday, September 10, 2015 | 4:05 PM
The first results of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) administered statewide in spring 2015 were released September 9, 2015 by the California Department of Education. This new test is designed to gauge student progress in learning the more rigorous academic standards that are designed to prepare students for college and careers in the 21st century. Test scores for the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) and by school site are now available online.
The state has said that because 2015 is the first year of the new tests, and because they are substantially different from the state’s previous assessments, the results will serve as a baseline to measure future progress. The new test brings together a number of assessments under the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments. This test is now widely used to evaluate student progress on California standards in mathematics and English language arts, often referred to as the Common Core.
“The state and PUSD have raised the bar for good reason so that our students have the strong math and reading skills to graduate ready for college and a 21st century career,” said Superintendent Brian McDonald, Ed.D. “This year is just a starting point and parents, teachers and schools should see these results as a baseline. We will focus on helping each student progress next year and beyond. The new standards and tests are a big adjustment and it’s only natural that the first year’s scores will leave room for improvement.”
The CAASPP tests for English language arts/literacy and mathematics were given to students in grades three through eight and grade 11. The adaptive tests were taken on a computer that gave students different follow-up questions based on their answers. The second part of the test challenged students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. Tests are designed to measure depth of understanding, writing, research and problem-solving skills. In total, the test takes four hours.
“The test results serve as a reference point as we continue to move forward with district’s strategic priority of providing dynamic instruction that prepares, inspires and supports students through engaging, relevant and challenging instruction,” said McDonald. “Using academically rigorous methods such as project-based learning, students think critically, write analytically and communicate and problem-solve collaboratively. The test results provide a more refined picture of a student’s abilities so that teachers can target those areas that need improvement.”
On CAASPP, students’ scores fall into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met and standard not met. Each student receives an overall score for English language arts/literacy and mathematics, expressed as a number between 2000 and 3000.
In PUSD, 36 percent of students exceeded or met standards in English Language Arts and 29 percent of students exceeded or met standards in mathematics. The state’s CAASPP Results website contains the results of all counties, districts and schools across the state, broken down by grade, gender, ethnic groups and demographics. PUSD’s test scores are comparable to districts with similar demographics. Dr. McDonald stated that “the new test highlights concerns around the persistent difference in scores among English learners, students from low-income families and some ethnic groups when compared to other groups facing many urban districts.”
“Nevertheless, Pasadena Unified in collaboration with our partners, families and students, is committed to ensuring that our students reach their full potential,” said McDonald. “As an accountable organization, PUSD is already working more efficiently to provide supports at the school site level and is focusing on enhanced professional development so that teachers can provide high quality classroom instruction.”
“Once individual test scores are released to PUSD by the state, student reports will be sent to the parent/guardian’s home address with an explanation of the student’s scores,” said Chief Academic Officer Shawn Bird, E.D.
“Some important facts that every parent should know about the test,” according to Dr. Bird, “are that results are not tied to grade performance, nor does they replace the California High School Exit Exam.”
The district also plans outreach and education for families this fall on the purpose of the test, how to understand results, test preparation tips and using devices such as Chrome Books to take the test.
Information on understanding the test results, along with sample test questions, is available in the state’s Parent Guide. Videos explaining the student scores are available online in English at https://goo.gl/n9953g and Spanish at https://goo.gl/8S9gA4
The CAASPP is administered annually in April or early May.
For information about PUSD test results and resources for parents, click here or go to http://goo.gl/ldgXfB